Shifting Leadership Dynamics in the Copenhagen Restaurant Industry in the Face of the Global Pandemic: A Study Across Copenhagen's Fine Dining Establishment During the COVID-19 Crisis

Amani Thostrup Mansia & Jasmin Terfa Hørup

Student thesis: Master thesis


We employ qualitative interviews and examine industry documents and secondary materials to conduct a multiple case study of the ways that restaurants in Copenhagen responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and related industry lockdowns. We draw on crisis management literature to explore how the restaurants in our study leveraged resilience, flexibility, and dynamic capabilities to develop innovative practices in response to the crisis. We draw on theories of innovation to identify the drivers of innovative outcomes in the restaurants we studied, which we then use to argue that there is creative destruction happening in the fine-dining segment of the restaurant industry. We also draw on complexity leadership theory to analyze the emergence of new leadership dynamics both inside and among restaurants as a result of the crisis, including the emergence of an informal network called Bowline. On this basis, we argue that the restaurant industry response to Covid-19 has helped accelerate a shift away from a traditional, hierarchical way of leading restaurants to a more collaborative and fluid set of leadership practices. We conclude that this shift will help restaurants become better equipped to function as environments that facilitate and enable adaptation, emergence, innovation, and change.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages128
SupervisorsEric Guthey & Nicole Ferry